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Colorado paper targets local audiences with free pub

The Gazette, a 96,351-circulation daily out of Colorado Springs, CO, is launching a series of free neighborhood papers next month in an effort to diversify its offerings for readers and advertisers.

The new publications, called Ink, will be geo-targeted to three retail areas in and around Colorado Springs: downtown, the west side of the city, and Manitou Springs, where it will be distributed in sales racks at local businesses. The debut issues coming out May 6 will have a rate base of 10,000 and will offer local advertisers a more targeted, smaller audience than the Gazette. Ink will be published Wednesdays through Saturdays.

“We feel like, in this environment, we need to be nimble and give consumers products they want, and that means having a diversified portfolio,” said Liz Cobb, VP of marketing for the Gazette.
“Newspapers all across the country are looking at a free model, and it wouldn’t make sense for us to go up against ourselves with another paid product,” she said of the decision to make Ink entirely ad-supported.

Cobb added that Gazette publisher Steve Pope’s extensive experience with free dailies heavily influenced the launch. Pope joined the Gazette as publisher in January. Before that, he worked with the free Vail Daily in Colorado.

Rather than target a particular demographic or psychographic from the outset, Ink is relying solely on strategic placement and word of mouth to move copies. Ongoing market research into reader attributes will help to shape the content of the newspapers going forward.

Content will be a blend of Gazette reporting, reader’s stories, original, neighborhood-focused stories and “lots of pictures,” said Cobb. The newspapers will be kept short — readable in about 10 minutes.

Ink will have its own microsite, housed on Gazette.com, which will feature editorial, videos and plenty of opportunities for reader comments — which Cobb says drive a lot of the traffic on Gazette.com.

Ink is expected to become profitable fairly quickly. If it is successful, more neighborhoods could receive their own edition of Ink.


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